By Susan Shifay Cheung                                    

Shifay in action!

No more clutter for me:)

April rain, mowers cutting grass, and flowers and plants coming to bloom; it’s spring time and my windows are wide open.

But, hold it… Argh! I see dust bunnies I can no longer ignore.

Yup, that time is here; spring cleaning and I hate it!

I have my sights on the untidy mountain of my children’s artwork—their masterpieces from school, sick days, holidays and play dates piled under the coffee table.

I pause here, as my mommy brain battles with my rational brain. I have to keep the artwork, right? These are important expressions of my children’s development.

A mommy moment: “Of course, those blobs look like elephants!”

Will they hate me one day because I shredded their finger paintings? How about those homemade Birthday, Christmas, Chinese New Year and Valentine’s cards? Will they sit before a counselor and blame me because I destroyed their outpourings of love?

Why stop at artwork and cards? What about clothes and shoes they’ve outgrown or toys they don’t use? Will they hold me responsible for disposing of Barbie or Thomas, even though they’d be too embarrassed to even admit they’d ever owned one?

Quit stalling. Make a decision, now. They won’t care. The yard sale is tomorrow.

My rational brain wins. The clutter has to go.

Ugh! I’ve become a hoarder! How many years of utility bills, banks statements and check stubs do I need to keep. I think five years is too much, don’t you?

I used to be the queen of organization–at work. Clearly, I’ve forgotten the good practices I used when I was in the corporate sector because they can equally be applied at home.

The 4 Ds of De-Cluttering:

DO – Make your “to-do” list and put a priority timeframe next to the task, such as A) has to be done now, B) has to be done in the next two weeks, and C) has to be done by the end of the month.

DELAY – While you can have a few Cs on your list, don’t make them all Cs, or else all will be forgotten as life takes over.

DELEGATE – You may think you’re the only person, who can do all of this, but you do have other people on hand to help. You only have to ask. So what if they don’t do it exactly as you would, but the task will be done.

DUMP – There are treasured things I’ll never throw away, like old family photos, but all else can be replaced. This is the most important D. The rule of thumb is to be ruthless in dumping.

Now, how ruthless can I be?

Susan S. Cheung (known to many by her Chinese name, Shifay) has turned her hand to many forms of writing in her various roles, over the years, as corporate trainer, management consultant, journalist and freelance writer. You can contact her at